Life....

...sometimes i really wish i was more decisive!
i set myself targets or aims in life and always end up getting close to them and then changing my mind or chickening out!

an example of this would be my australian dream. i so want to go but every time i think about it i find something else to occupy my time with.

recently (with the help of this blog) some pretty amazing things have been happening in life which have confused me even further.









over the last few months i have been busy in the kitchen cooking and baking, sharing with you all via the blog and twitter. i've had some amazing comments from readers and chefs alike, including GBBO, Ching-he Huang, John Whaite and Nigel Slater.

my boss took me to a conference at work and encouraged me to follow my passion in cooking and told me to contact someone within the company to see if there was any work i could do around food. amazingly with one small email i was offered some work experience with the product development team. i just need to organise a time to go, and find myself somewhere to stay in London whilst working in the city.

after watching this years bake off i am even more determined to apply for GBBO 2014. so i've made a decision!

when the applications open i am going to take the leap and apply. if i'm lucky enough to get through then i will do my best and get as far as i can.

should i not get through i'm going to return to college and spend some of my savings doing a course in either patisserie, professional chefing...is that a word? or something along those lines.

and then finally i'll go to australia before i turn 30 and use my new skills to work my way around the country. they are crying out for chefs apparently!

so i've got my revised plan..i just need to stick to it!





Total Saving
£1,500



As promised... Egg Custard Tarts...



...what a couple of weeks its been! i seriously don't feel like i have had a single day off. work has been taking up a lot of time recently what with traveling the region to train new starters and organising a charity event (which was a HUGE success!).

the aim of the event was to get all of my colleagues to attend so that we could give them an update on whats going on within the company, raise colleague moral and also raise some money for charity. we were hoping to have at least 40 colleagues turn up to the night and we were over whelmed when 90 people turned up.

the evening was brilliant, we cooked a host of foods for the masses, i did a sampling session with some of the new lines we are going to be selling AND we raised almost £400 for Hope4Kids.

had my oven of been working we may have raised even more but sadly it decided to break 3 days before hand so i was unable to bake a single thing...ITS BEEN 3 WEEKS SINCE MY LAST BAKE!!

starting to have withdrawal symptoms now but never fear, the engineer is coming tomorrow to repair it and then i have the weekend off to bake to my hearts content.

a few weeks ago (when the oven was working) i watched the episode of bake off where they were asked to create egg custard tarts. until this point i had never actually had one, so decided to check out the recipe and give them a bash the following morning.

lucky for me i had everything i needed in the cupboard so didn't need to go shopping.

you will need:

for the sweet pastry:

165g plain flour
25g ground almonds
120g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
55g caster sugar
1 medium egg

for the custard filling:

700ml full fat milk
7 medium egg yolks at room temperature
90g caster sugar
freshly grated nutmeg







firstly you need to make the pastry. start by mixing the flour and almonds together in a large bowl.







add the butter and rub together until it resembled fine bread crumbs.



stir in the caster sugar. now i decided to try something here, rather than using normal caster sugar i decided to go for a golden caster. i wanted the pastry to go really golden and have a slight caramel taste to it.




then break the egg into the bowl. work the egg in with your fingers and bring it all together until it becomes a soft dough.





tip the mixture onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball...





...then flatten the ball with your fingers so it forms a disc. wrap with cling film and stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
have a tidy up, make a coffee and prepare the cutter you are going to use.



after 30 minutes remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a floured worktop. the recipe i used calls for the pastry to be rolled to 5mm thickness, however when i made my first batch i found that going that thin made it very tricky to handle so i went slightly thicker and made 10 cases rather than 12.

once rolled use an 11cm fluted round cutter and stamp out discs, carefully ease them into a muffin tin. as you can tell from the picture above i didn't have any fluted cutters so i went for a cutter than looks like it fell out of the 1980s, but it worked a treat!

place the muffin tin into the fridge to allow the pastry to cool back down. preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6.





to make the custard gently heat the milk in a pan until just below the boiling point...









whilst the milk is warming, whisk together the eggs and caster sugar until it becomes pale and creamy. such a lovely colour!
again for the custard i used golden caster sugar to add a little colour.




pour the warm milk onto the egg mixture whilst whisking, you want to do this slowly in a steady stream. whisk until the mixture is smooth with tiny little bubbles.

pour this mixture into a pouring jug, it makes the process of adding to the pastry a whole lot easier!

i found that this recipe makes ALOT of custard and i was left with half of what was made. i used the left overs to make bread pudding but you could probably double the pastry and make 2 batches in one.





remove the muffin tin from the fridge and place on the oven shelf, then pour the custard mixture into each case, going as high as you can without it going over the edges of the pastry.
grate the nutmeg over the top of each tart and then close the oven door and bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.










the next task is to be patient! one of the biggest mistakes made on the bake off was attempting to remove the tarts from the tray before they had cooled. leave them alone on a wire rack for AT LEAST 30 minutes before even attempting to remove them.

when i posted the picture above on twitter in the morning GBBO actually retweeted me and said "Will they survive the scooping?"...



...i'm happy to say they did! and they were beautiful. the custard was perfectly done, with a slight wobble. the pastry although dark (because of the sugar used) was perfectly baked and had a caramel butter taste.

needless to say they didn't last long!




Lurpak actually shared my tarts on their Facebook page whilst they were running their pastry competition, i really thank them for that! a real confidence boost.

Challenge accepted: Petits Fours...

continuing the bake off theme, my next challenge was to create some petits fours.
i've made my fair share of madeleines before so this left like quite an easy one to do and i event managed to kill 2 birds with one stone! not only did this cover the bake of the week but it was also John Whaite's book club bake, so i entered it into a competition.




i was concentrating so hard on getting everything right with these that i completely forgot to take pictures of me making them, perhaps i shall revisit this at a later date.
the book club competition asked for you to create a bunch of John's rose madeleines. 




the recipe calls for them to be dipped in pink fondant and then drizzled with white chocolate. Personally i have to be in the right mood for white chocolate and this was not one of those times so i went for dark chocolate instead. i quite like the bold lines! has a bit more of an impact.







 i took lots of photos and entered them into the competition. sadly i didn't win the prize but i did win something...




...i won the prize of being able to eat them! SCORE!


cake wednesday transforms into bake off wednesday...

as you may well know every wednesday Fran and i battle it out at work with baked goods, filling the stomachs of our colleagues after a long evening.

the bake off has recently started and its taking the nation by storm once again. this in all honesty is the first year i've actually set it up to record, the other series i've watched snippets of...but shhhhhhh don't tell John! (i did watch that series the night before the bloggers bake day!)

i've been thinking about entering the competition myself for a little while now but i've always been a little concerned that there would be a lot of stuff i wouldn't have tried before, but as everyone at work is hooked on the show we decided to turn cake wednesday into bake off wednesday!

every tuesday night i watch the show and attempt to create something from the show on the wednesday morning to take in for my shift.






so far its going really well! the victoria sponge went down a storm,sadly i didn't get a picture of it..it went that quickly! But never fear i made another cake to show you for Emma's belated birthday. i've also tackled 2 types of bread and i have just finished a batch of madeleines.

i'm going to sort out the recipes and get them on later on today.

BRING ON THE BAKE OFF!


£1300

+£200

Total Saving
£1,500


AMAZING DAY.....

....for the last couple of days i have been looking into different things baking related and otherwise.

after purchasing a copy of John Whaite's book in london (autographed as well) i decided to follow him on twitter (@Johnwhaitebakes).




shortly after following he sent out a tweet about a Food blogger multi bake day so i decided to take a look. at first i was a bit unsure because of the price and the date, i wasn't sure if i would be able to get the time of work in such short notice. however after a lot of thinking i decided i would look into going.


amazingly i found some train tickets for the total price of £59 first class return from my home town to London Paddington (booking first class singles rather than a return). I thought about staying over night on the friday and then returning home after the day of baking as it was originally due to run from 10am to 3pm.

today i had another look and sadly the hotel i usually stay in is fully booked BUT! the times had been changed to 1pm-6pm which ment i had time to travel up on saturday morning and return the same day, saving myself £65 on hotel costs.

i had gone over it all in my head and decided to go for it. 

as i went to click on the link that would take me through to purchase i realised that the price had gone down from £140 to £100! i transfered money out of my savings account instantly and clicked on the link!

you are now reading the words of the proud over of a place at a food bloggers paradise, a day with a Great British Bake Off winner!

HOORAY!

shortly after this my phone lit up and i had an email. i recognised the name as one of my followers on twitter.




the email read as follows:

XXY magazine would like to invite you to this event we are hosting on tuesday next week, at Mahiki.
We hope to see you all there at the after party in collaboration with designers Joseph Turley and L.Lipop.
Also, we were wondering if you would want to collaborate as well with us making black cupcakes/or a cake with white icing spelling XXY.
Tell us if you're interested.

i feel completely honoured to be invited and so completely gutted that i cannot make it! what a great thing to be asked to do.
i had to email back and tell him i couldn't make it due to work and travel arrangements. 

kind of feels like one of those what if moments that i will probably regret for a very long time. 

but thank you so so much Pierre